January 18, 2014.
Daily Reading: Romans 5-6.
Background: Romans 3-4.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Christian peace: Continuing on with his dialog of the differences between justification by faith and justification by works, Paul explains how the paradigm shift that the Jews needed would bring the peace of Christ. Under the idea that there were works that men had to do in order to be justified by God, we would ever be in a cycle of approval and disapproval, never reaching a place that we could be at peace in our faith, because we would be relying on ourselves to be holy. This problem is rectified through Christ as we do not have to worry about doing enough for God. Christ has already done it for us, completing our faith by means of His righteousness and not of our own. This does not negate the obedience that we are to have through our faith, as we will see in the next chapter. Yet it does liberate from the bondage of sin, for it is through Christ’s blood that our sins have been washed away. Through this faith we can rejoice in our suffering, for suffering produces
2. Christ and Adam: Paul goes back to the foundation of the Jewish faith in this part of his dialog with the story of Adam and Eve. Through on man, Adam (as a archetype of Christ), sin entered this world. Sin and death, for when Adam and Eve took of the tree, they gained the knowledge of good and evil. Due to this knowledge, we have a propensity to sin through this knowledge. This is why when the Law came, the special revelation of God’s will to the children of Israel, it increased sin, because it increased our knowledge of good and evil. It told the children of Israel the specific will of God for right and wrong. The law was a tutor, a guide to lead mankind into maturity (see Galatians 3:23-29). It was necessary for the Law to come because of the righteousness of God. The Jews were given the privilege of hearing the words of life and the way to righteousness. However, the law also gave them a higher propensity to sin, for they were given more knowledge of good and evil. Since God is the same today, yesterday and forever, the same grace that we can receive now was given to the children of Israel in response to this sin. Thus, where sin abounded, grace also abounded all the more.
1. Baptism: Through baptism, we are united to Christ through His death, burial and resurrection. We crucify our old self as we go under the water, leaving the old man behind, and raise with Him to a life anew. Our past life, the life of sin, has died. We no longer live for it, but rather we live the new life to Him we have just been raised to, for if we have been united in His death though baptism, we will certainly be united with His resurrection. Though baptism, our sins are washed away (see Acts 2:38 and 22:16) and our old life put to death. We raise out of the water as new creatures, ready to walk in the newness of life (see Colossians 2:11-15 and 3:1- 11).
2. Spiritual purity: In baptism we crucify our old life of sin to put on the new life of Christ. This necessitates a pursuit of spiritual purity. We who are dead to sin should no longer live in it. It is not a matter of whether or not we are “allowed” to sin, but rather a matter of we will continually seek spiritual purity because of the decision we made when we put on Christ in baptism. It was a commitment to Christ, not just something we did without too much thought. The act of baptism is an act of submission to the will of God, a plea for a good conscious to God (see I Peter 3:21) though His working, and not our own (see Titus 1:3-7). Therefore, since we have been justified, we should be slaves to righteousness and not slaves to sin.
3. Set free to be slaves: We have been set free from the bondage of sin in order that we might be slaves of righteousness. To many, this statement seems counterintuitive. If we are set free, how then can we be slaves? What we miss when we as this question, however, is the fact that we are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. Whatever we believe and obey, that is what we are slaves to. There is no other option. We are either under the will of Christ, or we are not. We cannot submit to Christ without becoming slaves to Christ. The freedom we receive in Christ is not freedom to do whatever we want, but rather we are sent free to become slaves. Freedom to be slaves to Christ, and through this obedience gain eternal life. We are given the gift to overcome the wages of sin, which is death, and to receive the free gift of God, which is eternal life.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 6-9.
Stand strong in the Lord.